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LITERARY    LIFE                        223

writings were either banned or greatly depreciated by the
court critics at one time or another. They had that personal
style of writing or of thought which orthodox scholars regarded
as friendly to radical thought and dangerous to morality.

VI. LITERATURE AND POLITICS

It is natural that the bondage of language has brought with
it the bondage of thought. The literary language was dead, so
dead that it could not express an exact thought. It always lost
itself in vague generalities. Brought up amidst such general-
ities, with a total lack of discipline in logical reasoning, Chinese
scholars often displayed an extreme childishness of argument.
This disparity between thought and literature brought about
a situation where thought and literature were regarded as
having no relation with one another.

This brings us to the relation between literature and politics.
In order to understand Chinese politics, one should understand
Chinese literature. Perhaps one should here avoid the word
literature (wenhsilek) and speak of belles-lettres (wenchang).
This worship of belles-lettres as such has become a veritable
mania in the nation. This is clearest in modern public state-
ments, whether of a student body, a commercial concern, or a
political party. In issuing such public statements, the first
thought is how to make them nice-sounding, how to word them
beautifully. And the first thought of a newspaper reader is
whether such statements read nicely or not. Such statements
almost always say nothing,, but almost always say it beautifully.
A palpable lie is praised if it is told in good form.

This has led to a type of belles-lettres which, when translated
into English, seems extremely silly. Thus in a comparatively
recent statement by an important political party we read:
"Whoever violates our national sovereignty and invades our
territory, we will drive them out! Whoever endangers the
peace of the world, we will stop them! We are deter-
mined. . , . We are resolved to exert our utmost, . . . We
must unite together. ..." A modern public would refuse to
accept such a statement. They would require a more exact